Diabetes Prevention Through Antiviral Treatment in Biobreeding Rats
Bo NiklassonWilliam Klitz
A picornavirus (Ljungan virus) has been associated with diabetes in its wild rodent reservoir and in diabetes-prone biobreeding (DP-BB) rats. We attempted to alter the development of diabetes in DP-BB rats using two anti-picornavirus compounds (pleconaril and APO-N039), singly or in combination. Antiviral therapy was initiated 2 weeks before expected onset of diabetes. Pleconaril or APO-N039 alone did not affect the debut of diabetes. However, animals receiving a combination of both compounds were protected for at least the entire period of treatment (4 weeks after expected time of diabetes onset). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that the presence and distribution of virus antigen in the pancreatic islets coincided with the clinical status of the animal. Data indicate that a treatable picornavirus can be involved in the cellular assault resulting in diabetes and in these cases the disease mechanism appears to involve a virus present in the pancreatic beta cell mass itself.